FANTASIES OF THE MECHANICAL BODY IN MODERNIST AND CONTEMPORARY CULTURE
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This study will look at fantasies of the mechanical body in a series of close readings of key modernist and contemporary texts. It will argue that these texts are sites of resistance or repression, in which unconscious and / or cultural narratives about the death drive have left their traces. Part One, Chapters 1-3, explores the links between war and fantasy, and between fantasy and gender. Chapter One looks at the art and writings of the Italian Futurists and English Vorticists, with the focus on Marinetti and Lewis, to consider how the rationalized bodies of the soldier and worker might be seen as the covert problems underpinning the fantasy, returning to it in the form of the repressed. Chapter Two concerns the writings of Ernst Jünger, where war, modern labour, the incursion of danger into everyday life, and photography are seen to provide signs of the emergence of the Typus, an organic construction, who has learnt to see himself as devoid of feeling, turning the death drive into the will to power in acts of aggression, and for whom the function of the eye is the same as that of the weapon. Chapter Three investigates the problem of war-shock and the shocks of cinema in First World War film footage of shellshocked soldiers, Lang's Metropolis, and Chaplin's Modern Times. It shows how discourses of hysteria, feminization and commodity relations form the common ground between the cultural reception of both shelishock and cinema, and how film-makers and critics responded to both sets of debates. Part Two, Chapters 4-5, explores the links between the machine, the maternal body and the death drive in the Terminator and Alien films, and considers the question of affect, mourning, and identification in Cronenberg's Crash.
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